The Trio, “Live” @ Charlie O’s (Fuzzy Music)
Put three solid veterans together in a live setting, without rehearsal but filled with decades of experience and mutual jazz empathy, and you get the drift of this fine recording. Bassist Chuck Berghofer, pianist Terry Trotter and drummer Peter Erskine decided to document that empathy and musicality at one of their monthly gigs at Charlie O’s, a jazz club/bar and grill in the Valley Glen section of Los Angeles. Charlie O’s is a not-so-hidden treasure where cats go to hang -and hear other cats play. Everything on this CD is wonderful, primarily because of the thoughtful, usually extended approaches they take with the music. My favorites: Trotter’s exploration of “Put Your Little Right Foot Out” (which Miles Davis recorded as “Fran-Dance”), a reworking of Vince Guaraldi’s “Charlie’s Blues” (in this instance a nod to late bassist and club founder Charlie Ottaviano), and a crystalline, elegiac version of J.J. Johnson’s ballad “Lament.”
Jeremy Pelt, Men of Honor (HighNote)
Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt’s is the leader on this new recording project but there is a true ensemble feel to this post-bop quintet project. Each of the players contributing original material in addition to his splendid soloing. Pelt’s longstanding bandmates are tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen, bassist Dwayne Burno, drummer Gerald Cleaver and pianist Danny Grissett. Favorite tracks: Allen’s composition “Brooklyn Bound,” Cleaver’s “From a Life of the Same Name” and Pelt’s “Us/Them.” Men of Honor is Pelt’s seventh recording as a leader. He’s worked hard at maintaining a true acoustic band – and the effort has paid off admirably.
Dave Holland Octet, Pathways (Dare 2)
This project marks a happy medium between bassist Dave Holland’s longstanding quintet and his occasional big band. Some would say the octet is a perfect size for Holland’s sound palette: robust at times, intimate when the leader desires - and always steaming full-speed ahead with interesting and innovative music. The octet’s recorded debut, captured live at Birdland in Manhattan last year, teams Holland with longstanding collaborators: Antonio Hart on alto sax and flute, Chris Potter on tenor and soprano sax, Gary Smulyan on baritone sax, Alex Sipiagin on trumpet and flugelhorn, Robin Eubanks on trombone, Steve Nelson on vibes and marimba, and Nate Smith on drums. My favorites: Holland’s “Ebb and Flow” and Potter’s composition “Sea of Mamara.” This is a March 23, 2010 release.